If you have been on the church tech scene on the Internet for the last month, you would have seen a lot of different articles popping up about how your church could get a sweet $10,000 per month of free Google Adwords for your church website. Churchsites.co promoted it, NilsSmith shared it, and even Josh Burns of Social Media Academy did a whole webinar on it.
This is nothing new. I had actually written about this two years ago on my old personal site how I had helped my missionary organization effectively use this for over a year and half and SIGNIFICANTLY boosted our online presence.
But I actually made a claim to Josh on Twitter that I think many churches should NOT sign up for this.
Here were my exact words:
Did you know your church can get $10k of free Google Ads per month?
Crazy. I just walked #SocialChurch Academy Members through the process
— Josh Burns (@jburno) April 21, 2015
But before I get into the why of Google Adwords may not be great for your church, let me recap what all the hype is about and actually show you how to grow that to $40,000/month.
$10,000/month In Free Google Adwords
Let me call it what it is, the Google Grant is Google’s attempt at inflating their advertising prices and still getting tax write offs. If your church creates advertisements as a free tax write off (and what does it really cost them but free ads on their site occasionally and making their product, Google Search, more functional), then it also has the side benefit of making the whole advertising world more profitable because your advertising will drive up prices for non-profits that may want to buy advertisements. Now the minimum cost per advertisement will be $2 per ad posted and clicked through.
But it’s a good thing for your church. When I worked with Youth for Christ, we utilized this grant immediately when I got into my position and our traffic to the website increased 10 fold.
So what are the requirements for you to get this free advertisements?
- A daily budget limit of $329 USD, which is equivalent to about $10,000 per month
- A maximum cost-per-click (CPC) limit of $2.00 USD
- Only run keyword-targeted campaigns
- Only run text ads that appear on Google search result pages
But wait, there’s more!
Up To $40,000/month Even!
If you thought $10,000/month was good, what if they tripled that offer to $40,000/month? Basically, they want to reward great advertisements that get regularly clicked through (instead of terrible ads that get click through rates of less than 1%, basically they are paying you to make their service look even better).
This option is not something you cannot instantly get with Google. Here are the requirements, but they are not difficult to do:
- Have conversion tracking installed and be successfully tracking at least one conversion. The conversion cannot simply be a page view of your homepage, but be tracking a substantial action such as a newsletter or volunteer sign-up.
- Have hit your monthly budget cap (at least $9900) for at least two different months over the last six months (they don’t need to be consecutive months).
- Have maintained an average account level clickthrough-rate (CTR) of 1% or higher over the past 6 month period.
- Submit the online application detailing how you will use the increased advertising grant money.
- Be in good standing with the Google Ad Grants program and abide by our program policies and guidelines.
- Have an authorized representative of the organization who manages the account at minimum on a bi-weekly basis.
- Complete an annual survey and agree to share impact or conversion data.
Unfortunately there is a catch. There is always a catch.
Here’s the Problem
I’m just going to give it to you straight.
If you fail to meet the expectations assigned above, they can and will pull your grant and reserve the right to withhold it in the future.
What does that mean? If you decide to casually use it and hope to bump up your traffic a little, but do not use the service to it’s fullest, you may lose the service forever.
Google only wants strong users that are going to give their service influence and power. Bad advertisements and wasted grant money will actually bring down their service and it behooves them to drop you quickly and completely.
Churches are notorious for rushing into things, and sadly, this may cost churches thousands or tens of thousands of pageviews a month (can you imagine increasing your congregation by 500-1,000 people a month with a good Google Grant?), all because you rushed into it without a plan.
We need to think through our decisions better. We need to have a plan. And we need to be good stewards of our resources. This is a commandment directly from God with VERY grim results if we fail to follow through.
You either get a full time staff person dedicated to digital ministry and has a focus on Google Adwords or you use Nils Smith’s Searchable.Church for help.